Approaching fall, Angels offense slips

Angels' offense dips in September

BOSTON -- After crushing baseballs for three months, the Angels have been relatively quiet in September.

Manager Mike Scioscia's run-and-stun outfit averaged 3.4 runs through the first 13 games of the month, down from 6.2 in August, 7.1 in July and 5.7 in June.

They're still second to only the Yankees in runs scored in the Majors, with the best team average in the game, second-best on-base percentage in the American League and its fourth-best slugging percentage.

Scioscia doesn't seem to think there is anything to be concerned about as his team heads down the stretch, leading the AL West by six games over the Rangers with 19 left entering Tuesday.

"The last 20 games we probably haven't had as much chemistry," Scioscia said. "A few guys have been a little out of sync. We had for a long time everybody comfortable and swinging the bat well."

The mashing peaked in Cleveland in late July, when all nine hitters in Scioscia's lineup were at .300 or higher, the first time that had happened in the Majors so late in a season since 1934.

Five of Scioscia's starters on Tuesday night at Fenway Park were batting .300 or better, with Bobby Abreu at .299, Maicer Izturis at .297 and Juan Rivera at .290. Jeff Mathis, who has had a superb season defensively at catcher and has had a great connection with John Lackey of late, came in batting .210.

Abreu, Rivera, Mike Napoli and Vladimir Guerrero have seen a dip in production, Scioscia noted, but Guerrero busted out on Monday night at Yankee Stadium with three hits, including his 14th homer.

"We have some guys who've had tough stretches, but they're getting back on beam," Scioscia said.

Asked about Guerrero, hitting .301 in the cleanup spot, Scioscia saw positive signs at Yankee Stadium.

His struggles, the manager said, "come when he doesn't have his base, his legs. Yesterday he looked good. His bat speed's been as good as the last five or six years."

In the midst of his best all-around offensive season at age 34, No. 5 hitter Torii Hunter took a .312 average into the Boston series with 21 homers and 82 RBIs -- despite missing 32 games with a groin injury.

"It's getting late, and guys get fatigued mentally more than physically," Hunter said. "I've been out five weeks or so. I'm ready to go. I had my rest."

Asked which is the real offense -- the one that stormed through three summer months or the one that has been slowed in September -- Hunter had a emphatic response.

"The real one was definitely the one in June, July, August," he said. "Before and when I was out. That's our real offense. Now we're just trying to win. We'll bunt more, getting guys over. It's different. In June and July, guys were swinging, going deep, getting doubles, putting up numbers. Now we're just trying to win."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.